We 'Ask Arizona' About Her New Advice Podcast for Kids

The classic Highlights character 12-year-old Arizona has a knack for helping kids solve problems with stories from her own life, and now she's bringing her skills to podcasting.

Sean Tulien: Hi, Audible listeners. I'm Editor Sean, and today I'm interviewing an extra-special guest—Arizona from the Ask Arizona podcast. Arizona helps kids from all over the world solve their problems by sharing life lessons she's learned. Welcome, Arizona!

Arizona: Thanks Sean, I'm super excited to be here! 

Sean: Would you mind telling us about your podcast?

Arizona: I definitely wouldn't mind! Only, I think I should warn you about something...

Sean: Uh oh—what kind of warning?

Arizona: Don't worry. It's nothing terrible! It's just, well, I'm so excited about my podcast, once I start talking about it, it's kind of hard to shut me up.

Sean: Ha! That's one of the things that makes your podcast so fantastic. When kids write in with questions, you have a lot to say about how those very same worries and concerns have affected you. How did you get the idea to respond to kids' letters by giving examples from your own life?

Arizona: When I first got the idea to do an advice column for my school newsletter, I started out writing super-quick answers. But I soon realized I had a bunch of the exact same worries and challenges, so I guess I just automatically started talking about my own experiences. That newsletter turned into a monthly magazine story for Highlights magazine, and now it's this whole, amazing podcast!

Sean: Not that many 12-year-olds have their very own podcasts. You must be super psyched!

Arizona: Yeah, I totally am! Every morning I wake up feeling unbelievably grateful that so many people seem to be liking these crazy, random stories about my life. But also, to be really honest, I sometimes feel kind of nervous. I know it's silly, but once in a while I worry people might be judging me, or think my ideas for dealing with a problem might not be good. You know, insecure stuff like that.

Sean: It's brave of you to admit you feel nervous and insecure sometimes. I've been working as an interview guy for quite a while now, and I still get butterflies in my stomach.

Arizona: Really? 

Sean: Really!

Arizona: Wow! That makes me feel way better!

Sean: You're so good at helping kids solve their problems. Can you talk a bit about how you do it?

Arizona: I wouldn't exactly say I solve problems. It's more like I just really relate to other people's problems. I think when kids can see they're not alone—you know, that we're all going through a lot of super-similar hard stuff, it maybe makes life seem a little more doable.

Sean: That's for sure! Hey, I have a question about your friends Mareya and Ollie. It seems like those two don't always get along. Has that been a little challenging for you?

Arizona: Oh my gosh, it hasn't been a little challenging. It's been a lot challenging! Mareya and Ollie are my two very-most-extremely-best-possible-ever friends in the entire universe! Ollie's my neighbor who I've known since basically forever, and Mareya and I go all the way back to kindergarten. For a long time, I figured that since they were my best friends, they'd want to be best friends with each other too. It took me a couple zillion tries to figure out that that's definitely not always how things work. If you want to see exactly what I'm talking about, there's actually a pretty perfect example in the Ask Arizona episode called “Musical Mismatch.”

Sean: Awesome. I can't wait to listen to that. Hey, speaking of relationships, let's hear about your six-year-old twin siblings, Tex and Indi. Do you guys ever fight?

Arizona: Um, the answer to that is a definite Y-E-S. One thing I've found out from kids all over the world is every single family has disagreements. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm pretty sure it's scientifically impossible to live with the same people, in a not-gigantic space, for more than a couple months, without getting extremely annoyed—at least once in a while!

Sean: In episode 3, you talk about a “black belt in friendship.” Can you explain what that means?

Arizona: Sure. It's kind of hard to sum it up in a couple sentences, but that whole situation was an excellent example of fantastically fierce friendship frustration! Even though Mareya was always a few belts ahead of me, karate was totally our thing. But then she started practicing for this big karate event with another girl 24 hours a day, and it seemed like she didn't even know I existed anymore!

Sean: Wow! Twenty-four hours a day?!

Arizona: Okay, that might be a tiny bit of an exaggeration. The important thing is that I got really jealous, and it was a pretty rough patch in our friendship. But once we were finally able to really talk, and really listen, everything felt much better!

Sean: Do you have someone in your life you can talk to about your problems?

Arizona: My parents are usually pretty great at helping me figure things out. But they own a little grocery store in our neighborhood in San Francisco, and they work a lot. So they're not always around when I need them. Luckily, I have Charlie and Cow.

Sean: Charlie and Cow?

Arizona: Yep, they're the best listeners ever! And if you give them a nice scratch behind the ears, they'll give you the most excellent advice. Of course, you have to be able to translate meows, purrs, and tail flicks!

Sean: I'm just guessing here, but are Charlie and Cow your cats?

Arizona: Yeah. Cow got his unusual name because his coat has a spotty pattern that looks just like a miniature black and white cow. And Charlie was the most playful kitty in the whole animal shelter. He's the funniest little clown around!

Sean: I can't wait to find out more about Charlie and Cow, Tex and Indi, Mareya and Ollie, and all your other friends. Thanks so much for telling our listeners a bit about you and your Ask Arizona podcast. And like you always say at the end of every episode—Ciao for now!

Arizona: Thanks for inviting me—it was really fun talking to you! And Ciao for now from me too!

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